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25 Billion Pigford II Black Farmers’ Settlement
by Andrew Breitbart http://biggovernment.com/abreitbart/2010/12/06/me-mrs-sherrod-and-the-pigford-iiblack-farmers-settlement/ I knew I was going to be whacked hard, but I didn’t know when. On Thursday, July 15th, I warned NAACP president Ben Jealous to stop the racebaiting. I directed my ire at Jealous on the Scott Hennen radio show: “I have tapes, a tape, of racism, and it’s an NAACP dinner. You want to play with fire? I have evidence of racism, and it’s coming from the NAACP.”
This was part of an ongoing defense of the Tea Party, and in particular, a volley back against the NAACP for creating a week-long mainstream media-enabled attack built upon the provably false premise that a “mob” of the Tea Partiers hurled racial epithets at Congressmen Andre Carson (D-In) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga). “You are manufacturing this in a summer in which the economy is the No. 1 issue affecting blacks and whites in this country,” I said on Hennen’s show. “This country can ill-afford the schism of race to be exploited the way you are, based upon the false premise of the Tea Party being racist… This is absolutely manufactured for political gain.” My warning to Jealous was received with modest coverage in the conservative blogosphere.
I strongly believed, and still believe, that I had irrefutable evidence that showed the NAACP caught in an act of racism far worse than anything the media and the Democrat Party had attempted to manufacture in a year and a half of relentlessly trying to destroy the Tea Party. On Monday, July 19th, all hell broke loose. My 1400-word article featuring two separate video clips of Shirley Sherrod speaking before the NAACP hit the Internet on Big Government. Before the article and clips were analyzed in their entirety and put into its proper context, President Obama via the USDA chief Tom Vilsack, fired Shirley Sherrod. The story and the videos perfectly hit their intended target — which was the NAACP, not Shirley Sherrod. Ben Jealous apologized immediately for the NAACP crowd’s positive response to the moment when Sherrod describes one time when she treated a white farmer differently from how she would treat a black one. My BigGovernment.com story made the target unambiguously clear: “Sherrod’s racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups’ racial tolerance.” “The reaction from many in the audience is disturbing,” Ben Jealous said in an official NAACP statement. “We will be looking into the behavior of NAACP representatives at this local event and take any appropriate action.” At this stage, Sherrod, too, understood that this was not about her. Before aligning herself with the partisans at the NAACP and the Obama administration, Sherrod rightfully blamed the NAACP saying, “They got into a fight with the Tea Party, and all of this came out as a result of that.” All of this was put into excruciatingly clear context in a Big Government post, which included the two video clips, both received from an anonymous source who also described in broad strokes that she later sent the farmer to a white lawyer for help. “Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help,” I wrote. “But she decides that he should get help from ‘one of his own kind.’ She refers him to a white lawyer.” Jealous and the NAACP had clearly gotten my intended message — those that live in glass houses should not throw stones. And I reveled in knowing that once again I had stopped the media-enabled, venomous, and artificial campaign by the left to destroy the Tea Party on the grounds of alleged racism. That’s when I got whacked. The media ignored my 1400-word piece that accompanied the videos and falsely reported over and over (and over and over again, as I recall) that I only “released an intentionally deceptively edited video on the Internet.”
That’s when the activist left and the mainstream media kicked into high gear, falsely framing the story as an intentional hack job meant to hurt Sherrod personally. The roar of this narrative was almost unanimous although at one point, MSNBC host Chris Matthews came to my defense by pointing out more proof that the media was ignoring the context provided. Matthews did a segment with guests Howard Dean and Salon editor Joan Walsh where he replayed the clip and focused on Sherrod’s words: “I opened my eyes. I realized it wasn’t about black and white. It was, but it was about other things, about poverty.” “That part in there about redemptive revelation was actually in the initial tape,” Matthews told Dean, who admitted that he was pontificating on this serious subject without having bothered to have watched the short clip, let alone read the written piece that accompanied it. Matthews, to his credit, then asked Dean, “Why do you think if this was a complete slime job, why do you think Breitbart kept that in there, Governor? Why did he keep in that part… Why did he put the redemptive part in here at all?” When that segment aired, news spread and clearly the politically guided producers at MSNBC took notice. Usually “Hardball” airs a repeat of the taped show. In this extraordinary instance, “Hardball” re-taped that one segment with clueless Howard Dean gone. It was an Orwellian moment that affirmed everything I had come to loathe about the Democrat Media Complex. My whacking, facts be damned, was politically and media-wise officially ordained. Despite the firestorm, there was still an unanswered question — why on God’s green earth was Shirley Sherrod fired? My 1400-word piece said Sherrod helped the white farmer. The controversial video clip featured the basis for her defense, The President and Tom Vilsack were doubly informed of the whole story by both me and Sherrod herself. My first clue came, ironically, from the epicenter of Breitbart-hate — MSNBC. It was a week into the controversy. Nation editor Chris Hayes was filling in for Rachel Maddow and reported that I was responsible for black farmers not getting their settlement money. “Conservative con artist, 1; black farmers, 0,” liberal Journolist Hayes said snarkily. Black farmers? Settlement money? I had no idea what he was talking about. None. Later I became aware that on a CNN discussion on “the Sherrod fallout,” April Ryan of Urban Radio Network mentioned the Pigford settlement. Ryan described Pigford as a “litmus test” of the Obama Administration’s relationship with black Americans. A quick Google search revealed that Ryan and Hayes had been alluding to the incredibly conspicuous news that days after Sherrod was fired by the Obama administration,
funding for the $1.15 billion Pigford II settlement was pulled out from a supplementary war funding bill. The Google search also revealed that Senators Obama and Biden had been two of four Pigford legislative sponsors in the Senate. Even more interesting, Rep. Steve King (R-Ia), who is on the House Agriculture committee, was on AM radio drawing attention to what was previously not known to me, and it was a blockbuster: Shirley Sherrod, and her husband, Charles, along with their decades-long defunct communal farm, New Communities Inc., were set to receive over a whopping $13 million in the Pigford settlement, the largest amount of money allocated in the history of the Pigford settlement. California political legend and African American former mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown, of all people, started to connect the dots for me in the San Francisco Chronicle: As an old pro, though, I know that you don’t fire someone without at least hearing their side of the story unless you want them gone in the first place. This woman has been a thorn in the side of the Agriculture Department for years. She was part of a class-action lawsuit against the department on behalf of black farmers in the South. For years, she has been operating a community activist organization not unlike ACORN. I think there were those in the Agriculture Department who objected to her being hired in the first place. All of this led to me to wanting to know more about Pigford. My gut instinct to fight back hard and immediately against the charges that I was a racist who had heavily edited videos to do a hit job on Shirley Sherrod. None of that was true, but now I was seeing there was something larger going on behind the scenes and that it somehow related to Pigford. I started to research Pigford and the more we looked into it, the more I realized that this was not a story that could be researched and told quickly. In fact, it was still unfolding. And even now, it still is. This coming Wednesday, President Obama is slated to sign the Pigford II settlement. But that will not be the end of the story. The American people deserve a full investigation and accounting. Today, we’re releasing a report called “The Pigford Shakedown: How the Black Farmers’ Cause Was Hijacked by Politicians, Trial Lawyers & Community Organizers — Leaving Us With a Billion Dollar Tab.” What have we discovered about Pigford so far? Treasure troves of information from Lexis and Google. USDA whistleblowers. A former FBI agent who was on the verge of indictments. One of the originally discriminatedagainst black farmers with the goods. All these people paint a very clear picture of
widespread fraud, and can testify to a complex web of bad players, including politicians, trial attorneys and community organizers. I stumbled on the Pigford story in my defense of the Tea Party, so it’s a sweet irony that the Pigford story is exactly the kind of mess that makes the Tea Party so necessary. Politicians and trial attorneys bonded together to rip off the taxpayer, and even those farmers that were discriminated against were royally screwed. Let me be clear, our investigation convincingly leads us to believe the USDA practiced discrimination against black farmers. Those wrongs must be rectified. But Pigford is wrought with a grotesque amount of fraud, while the truly aggrieved were mostly left high and dry. The Pigford tale is about government run amok. It is also an indictment of the American media that is so blinded by ideology that it missed the big story yet again because taking out a political enemy was far more expedient. And furthermore it is why the American people need the Tea Party and new media as a checks and balances on corrupt politicians and their corrupt journalist counterparts. Today will be the first of many days that BigGoverment.com will release information, testimony and documents to make the case that, at the very least, the American taxpayer (and ESPECIALLY those legitimately discriminated-against black farmers) need a full accounting of the Pigford I and II settlements.
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